The Great Western Trail is a treat near the city of Des Moines, Iowa. This extensive paved pathway attracts humans and their dogs for some fresh air and exercise. Motorized vehicles are prohibited, making it a safe and peaceful area to take a stroll with your pooch. This trail is built on the retired Chicago Great Western Railroad, and was converted by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Organization into a lovely asphalt pathway people and pups of all fitness levels enjoy. It stretches north from the town of Martensdale into the urban area of Des Moines, passing through remote rural areas and charming small towns.
You can start your journey at the southern trailhead in Martinsdale, where you’ll find parking and restrooms across from the Blue Devils Football Stadium on Inwood Street. From here, you’ll find peace and quiet in nature, as the trail passes through open fields and shady woodlands. Some features of this stretch include a historic railcar and sweeping views of the North River. If you want to take a “paws” along the trail, your next stop is the small town of Cumming. Here you can find restrooms, parking and even a distillery! From this point, the trail continues through the town of Orilla, the scenic Willow Creek Golf Course, and finally to the northern trailhead in the expansive Water Works Park. At this trailhead, you’ll find more parking, restrooms, and nearby attractions in the lively city of Des Moines.
Dogs are welcome to join in on the fun, as long as they stay leashed and get picked up after. Be sure to bring along your own waste bags and water for your parched pup. This trail is commonly used for biking, running, inline skating, dog walking, and even cross-country skiing! Since this is a shared pathway, make sure your dog follows proper petiquette. This trail is a convenient way to get out into nature, and it’s sure to get your pup’s tail wagging!